Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cuba to free 6 more political prisoners into exile

Posted on Tuesday, 08.24.10
Cuba to free 6 more political prisoners into exile
The Associated Press

HAVANA, Cuba -- Cuba's Roman Catholic Church on Tuesday revealed the
names of six more political prisoners to be released into exile in Spain
under an agreement with President Raul Castro's government.

The men are among 75 dissidents who were arrested in a March 2003
crackdown on organized political opposition and sentenced to lengthy
prison terms on charges that included treason. In a landmark deal, Cuba
agreed on July 7 to release the remaining 52 prisoners still jailed from
the crackdown.

The new releases would bring to 32 the number freed under the agreement
so far - and all have left Cuba for Spain, with one then settling in Chile.

Church official Orlando Marquez said in a statement that the next six
slated for release are Victor Arroyo Carmona, Alexis Rodriguez
Fernandez, Leonel Grave de Peralta Almenares, Alfredo Dominguez Batista,
Prospero Gainza Aguero and Claro Sanchez Altarriba.

Both the Cuban government and the church say releasing all 52 will take
months - but Tuesday's announcement means that after barely six weeks,
just 20 are still left behind bars.

Some political prisoners in Cuba have been offered freedom but have
declined to leave their homeland. It is not clear if those released
subsequently will be exiled or if some will be allowed to stay in the

On Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters
in Washington that some of the Cubans released to Spain "have inquired
about coming to the United States and we will evaluate those cases on a
case by case basis."

He said U.S. officials are working "to find the most expeditious manner
to handle any requests that these individuals might make and details are
still being worked out."

Crowley said that coming to the U.S. through a third country is a more
complicated process than arriving directly from Cuba, "but it doesn't by
itself rule out anyone coming to the United States."


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